Veules les Roses sea carnival Normandy

Normandy Summer Sea Festival, Veules-les-Roses

This week Paris has been drenched with April Showers in May.  Just to be confusing, in France it’s supposed to be March showers. Good for the shrubs perhaps but even greater for the travel companies, as we’ve been instead turning our thoughts to the summer holidays.

I realised that I’d forgotten to share the rest of a Normandy short break we made last summer. Remember the visit to the watercress beds in Veules-les-Roses?  It’s not surprising that this Normandy village, with the smallest river in Europe, was voted as 6th most preferred village in France by the French in 2013. The locals also host a Watercress Festival on 20 April.  It’s a date to note for 2015 but it’s not too late to mark this fun festival in your diaries for this summer.

Normandy tractors decorated for the festival

La Fête de la mer, or Festival of the Sea, takes place on 15 August. It’s a popular date as the 15 August is always a national holiday in France (and this year it falls on a Friday, making a ‘pont’ bridge for the long weekend). For those of you who prefer to take off earlier, then on 14-15 June there’s the Rose Festival for budding weekenders and on  5-7 July 2014, Veules-les-Roses will run the Linen festival for the very first time.

veules-les-roses sea carnival boats in the Normandy village

The sea festival kicks off with a religious ceremony at the Church of Saint-Martin in the village centre. Then, driven by decorated tractors and jeeps, boats carrying light-hearted, proud youngsters clad in nautical stripes and sailor’s berets form a procession through the main street.

carnival of boats in Normandy

We follow them to the beach, so popular with Russian artists at the end of the 19th Century, inspired by the likes of Monet and Eugène Boudin.

It’s a procession with a difference.  Yes, the boats are going to sea with the Mayor and a couple of priests.

mayor and priests walking on the beach, Normandy

They give their benediction to protect the boats and throw a wreath in memory of all sailors lost at sea.

blessing of the boats and benediction in Normandy, festival of the sea, Veules-les-Roses

Time for some reflection.

bonnet de marin or sailor's beret at the sea festival in Normandy

At the end of the procession, the town hall laid on a splash of Normandy cider, before most visitors headed off for their oyster picnics on the beach or grabbed a table at the numerous seafront restaurants for a plate of local fish and seafood with a view of the cliffs. We already had a super gastronomic meal at Les Galets the night before; this time we found a more light-hearted table at Le Petit Veulais crêperie.  Luckily we booked a few hours beforehand!

normandy oysters

Eye-aye, Captain.  I see their prizewinning oysters (gold medal winners 2013 and 2014 at the Concours Général Agricole) on the horizon, plus watercress beds, rosebeds, oyster beds, seabeds. For sleeping beds, we loved staying a few years before at l’Hôtel Douce France when Julie was just a baby.  This time we stayed in the neighbouring market town of St Valery-en-Caux and thoroughly recommend the Hotel du Casino which is great value.

A great dose of fresh sea air is guaranteed: overlooking the harbour with excited seagulls and tinkering boats for extra ambience, all included.



13 replies
  1. Kim - Liv Life
    Kim - Liv Life says:

    Here’s hoping that rain has cleared out and gone away. I’ll admit I’m not much of a rain fan… but a festival in Paris?? Yes! I’m a fan of that! Thanks for the pictures and bringing it all to life. Looks like a fabulous day!

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks, everyone.
      It was fun, even if I didn’t eat any oysters, truth be told. Was ill with them once and now feel a bit shy with them… but appreciate that they were good, judging by Antoine’s ooh la laaahs.

  2. Thomasina
    Thomasina says:

    The Rose Festival and the Linen Festival sound interesting. Thank you Jill for giving me these ideas. Good to have hotel and restaurant recommendations too.

  3. June S
    June S says:

    I remember visiting Veules-les-Roses when there was no festival and I loved the area. Must go back at festival times. Happy memories.

  4. Shirley Moffat
    Shirley Moffat says:

    The Normandy Sea Festival looks fantastic I don’t think Fisherrow can compare with it. Hope you share with us more of your wonderful holidays. Jill hope 2014 is a great year for you and your family.

  5. Liz
    Liz says:

    The festival of the sea sounds like great fun! Although I’d be happy attending any festival in France…as long as the dreaded rain stays away 🙂 Hope there will be some sunshine in your life very soon! xo

  6. Lake Lili
    Lake Lili says:

    Love the blessing of the fleet… and the tractor. Looks like a wonderful vacation. Hope this year’s is a wonderful success too.


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